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Worked up over work?

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in Office Management

Working Smart readers often contact us to discuss their problems managing their careers, employees and bosses. Sometimes they hate their office environment.

While we love to hear from you, we’re struck by how many folks complain about minor matters that tend to take on a life all their own, such as a flip remark by a peer or artwork in the boss’s office that’s “distasteful.”

Sure, one snide comment can stick in your craw. But unless you move past nettlesome issues and regain positive energy, you might give these irritants more power than they’re worth.

Take these precautions to maintain your perspective:

Count the cost. Pinpoint how the problem affects your work. How does it limit your ability to function? What obstacles does it present?

Shrug off mere annoyances. If you take offense at someone’s choice of clothes or office decor, ask yourself, “Must I give this another second of thought?” If not, forget about it and focus on what really matters.

Expose excuses in disguise. Some readers who regale us with their litany of complaints, from the mail clerk with body odor to the VP’s perpetual smirk, wind up admitting that they’re unhappy with their jobs. Their preoccupation with petty problems disguises an underlying job dissatisfaction.

If you’re in a constant state of irritation at work—based on bathrooms that run low on toilet paper or the lukewarm water in the cooler—determine whether these frustrations serve as excuses that mask a deeper discontent.

Try the direct approach. While you may not want to tell the boss, “You laugh like a donkey,” it’s often wise to let someone know in polite terms that a certain behavior bothers you. We frequently urge readers who write us about a noisy cubicle-mate or a cursing peer to say to the offending party, “When you do that, it upsets me.” It’s amazing how many problems get solved when you address them head-on.

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